Tim Tebow will know in a couple of days where he’ll be playing professional football. Far more important, though, before he signs his first NFL contract, he already knows what his off-the-field priorities are: principles before pocketbook.
The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and former University of Florida standout made that abundantly clear this past weekend while speaking to a Christian college audience about the reaction in some quarters to his appearance in a commercial for Focus on the Family during this year’s Super Bowl. You may recall that the ad, an uplifting 30 seconds built around the theme of “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life,” generated an enormous amount of pre-game publicity. In fact, some critics of Focus on the Family tried to get the commercial pulled from the big game even though they hadn’t even seen it.
I did a number of interviews on shows like Larry King Live and ABC World News Tonight in the days leading up the big game. One of the things I pointed out was that if the topic of family was somehow considered political or controversial in our culture, we have deeper problems as a nation than we realize. What Tim Tebow revealed this weekend only reminds me of that fact.
Tebow said he was told by “multiple” companies during Super Bowl week that they could not let him represent their products if he went through with the Focus ad. Think about that for a moment. We live in an era when, unfortunately, some of our greatest athletes are not our greatest role models.
And yet this fine young man, untainted by even a hint of scandal, cited by more than a few analysts as the greatest college football player of all time, was classified in “multiple” corners of corporate America as unfit to endorse sneakers or soft drinks or sportswear. Why? Because he appeared in a commercial thanking his mother for giving birth to him rather than aborting him as her doctors had advised.
I’ve seen some people use words like “censorship” or “viewpoint discrimination” or even “hate” to describe the position of these unnamed companies who told Tebow he disqualified himself from selling their products because of his pro-life beliefs. I don’t think any of those words are appropriate. Businesses are private entities that have every right to decide who they want representing their products. But I would say these corporations missed a fantastic opportunity by refusing to do business with Tebow. Consumers don’t have to be pro-life themselves to admire the character and commitment of a young man who is willing to stand up for what he believes in no matter the controversy it may cause.
In fact, Tebow ended his remarks this past weekend by saying he doesn’t regret a single thing about his decision to partner with Focus on the Family for the Super Bowl ad. Losing sponsorship deals, he explained, was a small price to pay for the ability to spread his message about family and faith.
That’s the kind of rubber-meets-the-road courage all-too-rarely seen today in any sphere of life—and an attitude we can heartily endorse.
You might also be interested in my related post: “Welcome to Denver, Tim Tebow!”